Are you continuously looking for a top-quality jacket for your hiking trips during autumn months? Do you seek for something that will withstand windy weather conditions and rains yet save you from over sweating while climbing up the hill? Well, you’re not the only one.
Most hikers are looking for that perfect jacket that will serve them for both warmer and colder autumn days, but when you find that perfect one it’ll be your best friend on your hiking adventures for years. Unfortunately, most softshell jackets don’t offer both waterproofness and breathability, but we did our best to find the best ones on the market.
Some materials used for these jackets can leave you chilled, wet or clammy, but knowing what features to look for before buying is also important thing you need to have in mind as there is a mind-boggling offer of softshell jacket choices.
In order to help you choose the best women’s softshell jacket basics, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of finding, and at the end buying, the best softshell jacket on the market to meet your needs.
We also found and reviewed the best jackets that are excellent for hiking activities and are a perfect choice for autumn months. Let’s start with some things to consider before diving into reviews.
Our Top Picks
|Product Name||Material||Color||Specific Features||Price|
|The North Face Apex||96% polyester, 4% elastane||Gray, blue||TNF Apex ClimateBlock 100% windproof fabric rated at 0 CFM; secure-zip covered Napoleon chest pocket||Check price on Amazon|
|Patagonia Adze||Body - 93% polyester, 7% spandex; side panel - 88% nylon, 12% spandex||Blue, gray||Made from synthetic fibers, 100% authentic, extremely durable||Check price on Amazon|
|Outdoor Research Enchainment||100% Polyester||Red/orange, blue||DWR coated zippers; it is water and wind resistant; breathable; movement-mirroring stretch and adjustable wire-brimmed hood||Check price on Amazon|
|Mountain Hardwear Alchemy||56% polyester, 44% nylon||Blue, yellow, orange||Adjustable helmet-compatible hood with a wire brim to hold its shape, large interior mesh drop pocket for gloves||Check price on Amazon|
|Patagonia Adze||Body - 93% polyester, 7% spandex; side panel - 88% nylon, 12% spandex||Black||DWR coating, hip length, 2 external zippered hand warmer and one chest pocket, it weighs only 17, 2 oz||Check price on Amazon|
|Columbia Kruser Ridge||100% polyester; 100% nylon lining||Black, blue, gray, pink, purple, red, white, green, black/white||Suitable to be machine washed; with side-entry pockets, zip-front jacket with standing collar||Check price on Amazon|
|Marmot Rom||Gore-Tex® windstopper||Green||Windproof, water resistant and breathable; attached adjustable hood with peripheral cord and zippered hand pockets||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
Before even starting to look for a softshell jacket, you must be aware what you need in a jacket and what activity you are going to use it for:
Insulated vs. Non-insulated
Most softshell jackets have a fleece lining and for your (and our) surprise, softshell jackets that are insulated are much warmer than the non-insulated ones. Softshell jackets are mostly intended for the casual use or winter outdoor activities such as hiking or camping.
The insulated softshell jackets will withstand mild temperatures, where they will keep your body warm enough and prevent overheating. Although they’re warm enough, you should always have the best base layer underneath, especially if you opt for the non-insulated jacket as they are more versatile.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world where clothing can work well in all climate and weather conditions, same applies to softshell jackets also. Choosing the best softshell jacket depends on your hiking preferences.
If you’re person who prefers hiking during autumn months then softshell jackets that are breathable yet waterproof are perfect for you. Sadly, most softshell jackets don’t offer both breathability and waterproofness, so if you choose breathable jacket you might end up soaked in sweat, but if you don’t sweat much, then waterproof softshell jacket should be your number one choice.
The softshell jacket will block most bad weather conditions affect your body at the cost of breathability. Nevertheless, these jackets are more breathable and waterproof than other jackets, except for the weave part of the fabric as it won’t stand the elements as well as the body material and counterparts.
During lower outdoor activities and lower temperatures, you’ll be satisfied with waterproof/windproof softshell jacket.
Even if you find the best softshell jacket in the world that doesn’t mean it will be good if it doesn’t fit your body. The jacket shouldn’t be too big nor too small.
Most features that we look for when it comes to buying the best softshell jacket are adjustable hems, good wrist closures, fit that will allow you good mobility and hoods. Lightweightness is also another thing you should look into when buying a softshell jacket.
Autumn months can be warm so the jacket that has elastic wrist cuffs will be a good choice because it can be pulled up to your elbows if you’re hot. If colder winter weather is your time to hike then we would advise you opt for the one with the hood so you can protect your head from the wind.
You won’t find a top quality softshell jacket for less than $100, but by investing in a good jacket you can be sure that you’ll have a warm piece of outfit for your hiking adventure during autumn months.
Best products on today’s market
Here are the reviews on some of the top base layer product available on the marketplace:
The North Face Apex
Price: $150 – $200
Weight: 640 g
Size: S, XL
Material: 96% polyester, 4% elastane
Color: Gray, blue
Specific features: Superior soft-shell hoodie is the ultimate all-around coat for the windy weather; TNF Apex ClimateBlock 100% windproof fabric rated at 0 CFM (100% windproof); secure-zip covered Napoleon chest pocket and exposed hand pockets.
Best use: Casual wear, hiking, running
Description: The North Face Apex Hoodie is being manufactured by The North Face, and this means that is has a great quality and at the same time, it is stylish. However, this jacket also has its disadvantages, which will also be covered in this review.
In this particular case, its waterproof properties are put to the test. Even though this jacket wouldn’t protect you from a downpour, it is perfectly good for light drizzles. As for its wind-resistant properties, it has a fabric rated at 0 CFM, which means it is completely windproof.
It has a hood to protect you in windy weather conditions and the best thing is that when you put it on, it stays in the shape it is and doesn’t get in your sight. Its design is perfectly fitting the body if you get the size right.
But, if you intend using it in colder weather conditions, it is recommended that you take a size up because you will need to wear warm clothes underneath.
Furthermore, you need to know that this model is extremely comfortable, but it is not very warm. This makes it perfect for running and other outdoor activities. Another feature which is supporting these properties is its breathability. It lets the moisture escape your body, not allowing your skin to sweat, while at the same time, protects your body from the wind.
The main downside is its price. It is a bit pricey, but it is worth the money. Also, before ordering, you need to know that the logo is not the same as in the picture. It is sometimes white and sometimes black, so if you want to make sure you get the right color, contact your supplier and let him know your exact preferences.
- Size chart maybe not as advertised
- The hood is a bit awkward
Related: Most buyers who bought this jacket also opted for this Long Sleeve Crew Neck Shirt from the same brand as a base layer which dries quickly to minimize your body heat loss and breathability.
Price: $100 – $120
Weight: 620 g
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Material: Body – 93% polyester, 7% spandex; side panel – 88% nylon, 12% spandex
Color: Blue, gray
Specific features: This Patagonia women’s hoodie made from synthetic fibers is 100% authentic, extremely durable and comes with its original packaging.
Best use: Endures colder temperatures compared to other products, thus making it ideal for hiking, ice climbing, spring skiing.
Description: The Patagonia Adze Hoody is a quality product made from synthetic material which is recommended for hiking or other outdoor sports activities in mild weather conditions. Its fabric is stretchy which makes it very comfortable and it allows you moving around freely while wearing it.
Its inside is lined with fleece in order to increase its warming properties. Even though it does keep you warm in mild weather conditions, I cannot confirm if it is suitable for colder weather. It has side panels which are also stretchy and they add to its breathable properties.
They also provide insulation, which means that you can feel free to conduct your activities and while doing so, it will allow the sweat to escape your body without overheating your body.
Its material is water resistant, which doesn’t mean it can endure the heavy rain. However, it is perfectly good for light rain or snow. The waterproof properties are gained by adding a layer of durable water repellent fabric which would make a great finish and will keep the material from becoming saturated. This way, its breathable feature can come on the scene.
Its windproof properties, however, come from a different fabric which is made with Polartec material, a 100% windproof material which provides good protection from the elements. Its stretchy material makes it harder to damage it, but also makes it more durable and with higher quality.
The same Polartec fabric which acts as a wind and water resistant makes unnecessary the usage of another layer, thus making the jacket thin and effective in any weather conditions. This product is in the middle price range.
- Water resistant
- Bulky so it might be hard to store it later in your backpack
Related: Most buyers who opted for this jacket also opted for this Base Layer from the same brand which we also reviewed in our article on best base layers. This base layer will keep you dry and comfy during winter or amid intense exercises.
Outdoor Research Enchainment
Price: $80 – $200
Weight: 408 grams
Size: XS, M, L
Material: 100% polyester
Color: Red/orange, blue
Specific features: Made from 100% polyester fibers; DWR coated zippers; it is water and wind resistant; breathable; movement-mirroring stretch and adjustable wire-brimmed hood
Best use: Hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing
Description: This Outdoor Research Enchainment Jacket is a quality, well-designed jacket, which will protect you from wind and moisture. It is stretchy and allows the user a freedom of movement while performing outdoor activities.
The material under the arms is made with extra breathable properties since those are the areas of the body which are producing the most of the sweat. This different material is even more stretchy so you are able to move your arms without any restraints.
As for the outside material, even though it is promoted as a waterproof material, it is more of a water resistant material. This means that it is able to withhold a good amount of rain, but I wouldn’t go as far as heavy rain water resistant jacket. If you are looking for a jacket for an extremely wet weather, choose another option among our other alternatives.
All in all, it is excellent for moisturizing terrains, but not so good for prolonged wet weather. Its lightweight material is perfect for hiking and backpacking, but also for layer clothing for cold weather. As any hiking recommended jacket, this jacket’s material is also with high quality and extremely durable.
It is not made from natural materials, but this is the one feature which makes it even more durable and abrasion resistant. Its fabric is made of two layers and they both clean up very well.
The material is also very thick, and you can feel the quality material in your hands as soon as you touch it. It also has side pockets to keep your hands warm and another pocket in the chest area for small coins or small objects. It is important to mention that it will fit you perfectly if you are short or with an average height, however, if you are tall, the jacket might be a bit shorter than expected.
Although is it quite comfortable, the different material under the arms is beginning to pill after a few years, but nothing too intense. All in all, it is a great jacket for outdoor sports, but only suitable for mild weather conditions, it would be a mistake using it in extremely low temperatures. Its biggest advantage is that the price is low for this type of quality, so you would get a great deal.
- Thick material
- A bit short and tight
- Suitable for mild weather conditions
Related: If you want something to match this jacket then we suggest you opt for these Rocky Mountain High Gaiters from the same brand. You can pair them with your hiking boots to keep dirt and rocks away from the inside of your footwear.
Mountain Hardwear Alchemy
Price: $120 – $350
Weight: 635 grams
Size: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Material: 56% polyester, 44% nylon
Color: Blue, orange, yellow
Specific features: This jacket is made from polyester and nylon with Velcro-adjust cuffs protect the top of the hand without compromising mobility; asymmetrical; 3-way adjustable, helmet-compatible hood features a wire brim to hold its shape with large interior mesh drop pocket easily holds gloves and other essential gear.
Best use: Ice climbing, hiking in cold weather, skiing
Description: The Mountain Hardwear Alchemy is a jacket you would want to check out even if it is outside your price range.
If you are willing to spend some extra money on a quality jacket for your favorite outdoor activity, then this would be the right choice for you. This is a jacket made for extreme weather conditions and is worth the price.
It is highly recommended for extreme sports professionals. Its adjustable cuffs make the jacket a scale up from all other choices out there when it comes to mobility. They are designed to give you extra freedom of movement.
Furthermore, it has an interior mesh drop pocket, which is only one of the many special features it has. Its main advantage is that it is made especially for harsh weather conditions; it is even suitable for winter sports activities.
This is the one company that managed to make a comfortable jacket with highly breathable properties and yet one that keeps you warm in extreme weather. Simply put, it has it all. It is also suitable for sports with periods of activity and periods of stillness which leave your body with open pores and vulnerable to the harsh weather.
The best thing is that it is somewhere between softshell and hardshell jacket which is perfect when it comes to protection from the elements, yet comfortable enough to perform every activity while wearing it. Its only downside is its price; it is expensive, but a high-quality product.
- Made for extreme weather conditions
Related: If you want a complete protection from harsh wind, then we suggest you opt for these high-quality Mountain Hardwear Stimulus Glove for women. They will keep your hand warm and are designed to work with touch screen devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Price: $120 – $180
Weight: 487 grams
Material: Body – 93% polyester, 7% spandex; side panel – 88% nylon, 12% spandex
Specific features: Made from Polartec Windbloc (93% polyester, 7% spandex), side panel 88% nylon, 12% spandex, DWR coating, it goes in the active fit category and it has a hip length, 2 external zippered hand warmer and one chest pocket.
Best use: Humid area hiking, backpacking, spring skiing
Description: This Patagonia Adze Jacket is not just a good looking jacket, but its design is definitely an advantage. It is made from a combination of synthetic materials specifically made for sports activities. It is comfortable and soft to touch, although the sleeves are a bit short for tall people. It is not bulky and it is warm enough for mildly cold temperatures.
Its main advantage is that it does an impressive job in the rain. It is even suitable for a heavy rain. This Patagonia softshell jacket is made from Polartec fabric, which is specially made for wind blocking.
The combination of materials allows the sweat to escape through the breathable membrane in one of the layers. Its fabric is also stretchy and the side panels provide insulated protection without adding to the natural heat your body produces.
Its side pockets are shallow, but large enough to fit your hands in. The good thing is it can be zipped so you won’t lose your stuff kept inside. This jacket is in the middle price range and its main advantage is its rain tolerance and highly durable material.
- Shallow pockets
Related: Same as our previously reviewed Patagonia Adze Hoody above, this jacket also works best with this Base Layer from the same brand. You can see all features and our opinion in our article on best base layers.
Columbia Kruser Ridge
Price: $50 – $140
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Material: 100% polyester; 100% nylon lining
Color: Black, blue, gray, pink, purple, red, white, green, black/white
Specific features: Made from 100% Polyester; 100% nylon lining with zipper closure; suitable to be machine washed; with side-entry pockets, this zip-front jacket with standing collar and logo at chest is remarkable.
Best use: Hiking, backpacking, rock-climbing
Description: This Columbia Kruser Ridge Jacket is a softshell women’s jacket with classic design and great quality. It is coated with a waterproof material which shooks rain drops right off.
Regarding the warmth of the jacket, you might say it is suitable for the beginning of the winter months, but you have to wear a thermal T-shirt under the jacket.
As for its wind blockage properties, it gives you a great protection against wind. Even though it is thin, Columbia has done a great job manufacturing a jacket which will keep you warm in cold weather temperatures.
It is important to mention that the sleeves are long enough, even if you are a tall person. It is water resistant, but it is not fully waterproof.
What I mean by this, is that it can endure some amount of rain, but you will get wet in a heavy rain. The only thing that might get in your way is that it doesn’t fit close to your body so it might look a bit bulky if you are a thin person.
As it is very lightweight and with great quality, this product classifies for our hiking gear jackets. The best thing about it is that it is very soft to touch and comfortable. Even though it is made from synthetic fabric, it is pretty soft to touch and doesn’t have a plastic feel.
However, if you decide on getting one for yourself, make sure you order a size down because of the size chart variations. All in all, you would get a great deal from Columbia Company for this price.
- Machine Wash
- Side pockets
- Water resistant
- Might look a bit bulky on thin person
- Not waterproof
Related: If you want to stay dry and warm completely, then we suggest you look into Paradox Performance Base Layer Pants for additional warmth during all winter activities.
Price: $150 – $200
Weight: 1 pounds
Dimensions: 16 x 21 x 2 inches
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Material: Gore-Tex windstopper
Specific features: This is a Gore-Tex windstopper soft shell fabric with wicking backer jacket, its material is windproof, water resistant and breathable, with attached adjustable hood with peripheral cord and zippered hand pockets
Best use: Humid area hiking, skiing, ice-climbing, rock-climbing, backpacking
Description: This Marmot Rom Jacket is a women’s piece of clothing has some interesting features. To start with, it is completely windproof, no matter how strong the wind is. Its thick Gore-Tex material makes it perfect for outdoor sports activities.
Other than keeping your body warm, it also allows sufficient amount of moisture to escape your body. Sufficient enough to keep your body temperature but also if your body temperature rises, the skin will be able to breathe.
It also has zippered hand pockets to keep your hands warm if wearing it in cold weather. The surprising thing is that it is also suitable for cold weather even if you are wearing only a T-shirt under the jacket. As for its water resistant properties, it is perfectly good to withhold rain.
This jacket also has side panels for better moisture evaporation while sporting. As for the comfort, it fits perfectly to your body and it would be a nice fit if you are not keen on bulky jacket designs.
- Gore-Tex material
- Water resistant
- The sizing chart may not be accurate
Related: If you’re looking for a matching bottom then we suggest this Marmot Scree Trousers. They’re breathable, water resistant with ankle zippers from stopping rain to enter your hiking shoes.
Softshell jackets are considered special equipment suitable for specific weather conditions. For instance, when rain starts to pour you would prefer having a rain jacket and for the warmer dry months, other jackets are more suitable.
However, this product is a great choice for experienced hikers or backpackers who want to spice up their hiking gear and make it more weather friendly. With this jacket choice, you would have a great freedom of movement, great insulation properties and warmth (some will keep you warmer than others, so choose wisely).
Whichever choice you make, it is vital that you feel comfortable in it and it satisfies a requirement of yours. Some people prefer a jacket with a hood, while others avoid the exact same feature. Also, some prefer a jacket with great thermal properties, while others can’t stand feeling too hot in a jacket. All in all, it is the person’s preferences which matters the most.
In order to choose the right features, you must make a thorough research and be properly informed on this subject. With this buying guide, we have reviewed and tested some of the best women’s softshell jackets out there and delivered the research to you on a plate. All you have to do is choose the right one to fit your needs and desires.
Also, don’t forget to share with us your favorite jacket model, no matter if you are planning on buying it or you simply desire to have it among your jacket collection. We would be happy you share with us some experiences and hear your hiking gear needs.
Is the Columbia softshell jacket for women waterproof? I want to get it as a gift for someone but I know she will appreciate it even more if it is waterproof. I have a waterproof jacket from them that is very comfortable and that is why I want to buy this one but I do not know if this one is also waterproof.
Well, the Columbia softshell jacket is coated with waterproofing materials so you can brush of water from the surface. It gives a comfortable fit and is also windproof. My girlfriend loves the breathable material and the overall feel of the jacket. They come in a variety of color that’s so attractive.
I have used Outdoor Research gear a couple of times in the past years and, so far, I like it. That women’s jacket looks really nice and stylish and I know someone who would look nice in it. Is it moisture wicking or should I add a moisture-wicking shirt top for her to wear inside?
Most moisture wicking materials are made of polyester, and the Outdoor Research gear consists of 100% polyester fibers. Does your friend sweat a lot? If she does, the moisture-wicking shirt will make matters worst and sweat will show on her outer clothing (in this case the jacket).